Josh Tomlin: “Last time I pitched against your team, I went the distance and gave up just one run. Betcha can’t beat that!”
Jason Vargas: “Hold my beer”
That was basically the story of this game. Josh Tomlin pitched a complete game against Kansas City on Sunday; Jason Vargas came in today and completely shut down the Cleveland Indians and pitched a complete game shutout, which my sources tell me is better than what Tomlin did five days ago.
There was no stopping Jason Vargas tonight. Missing a Maddux by just three pitches, Vargas carved up the Cleveland hitters all night long, mainly with his incredible sinker. 18 of the 27 outs recorded by Vargas came via the ground ball, including an agonizing four double plays. Carlos Santana was the worst culprit of the evening, hitting into two himself and doing nothing of note at the plate the entire night. I don’t want to pin this entire loss on Santana because the offense as a whole, aside from Michael Brantley, couldn’t muster any sort of momentum against Vargas. Innings 2-4 started off with base hits, but nothing would come of it. The Indians would only make it past first base twice all night (once in the first inning and once when Yan Gomes hit an almost home run that ended up being a double).
Josh Tomlin, while not as good as his complete game on Sunday, looked great once again. His curveball was working all night and he had many hitters off balance chasing balls in the dirt and out of the strike zone. He went 7.1 innings, and there is definitely an argument that he should not have started the eighth inning since the Royals’ lineup was turning over for the fourth time. Tomlin got Alcides Escobar to fly out to start the inning, but Mike Moustakas launched the first pitch he saw into the right field seats, ending Tomlin’s night. But 7.1 innings of 3-run ball from a back of the rotation starter is incredible, so no one should be upset with Tomlin tonight. If anything, be upset that Tito sent him out when he should have probably went to his bullpen. Then again, with the offense having the potency of a wet towel tonight, the deficit didn’t really matter all that much.
- The Royals #royalsed their way into their first run of the game in the sixth inning when Lorenzo Cain hit a ~24 foot dribbler to the mound that was slow enough to allow Alcides Escobar to score from third after the call at first was overturned. Below is a visual representation of that play:
- Carlos Santana, although he hit into two double plays, did hit the ball fairly hard in a couple of at bats this evening. Was it BABIPy randomness? Is Carlos Santana just terrible? Should we not look into two at bats and extrapolate an entire player’s worth from them? Who knows.
- The time of this game was 2 hours and 19 minutes. Somewhere, Rob Manfred is silently nodding in approval.
In my series preview, I said that if you made it through tonight’s game, you’d be treated to a more favorable pitching matchup tomorrow when Carlos Carrasco takes the hill against Jason Hammel. Well you made it, so congratulations!...I guess. The pitching matchup won’t mean anything if the bats go quiet again. Thankfully, Jason Hammel is not suddenly a Cy Young contender and he throws with his right hand, so expect a better offense performance tomorrow. At least, that’s the hope.